210 DMAs Compressed into One

There used to be 210 markets (DMAs) in the United States. Now there is one: The Internet. Of course that’s a radical oversimplification. However all the separate state and local markets that could support lots of TV affiliates, newspapers, weekly shoppers, community publications, radio stations, and directory publishers are essentially disappearing.

The “local Internet” consists of thousands of sites. But few of these sites can make the kind of money that the traditional media have historically been able to make. That’s because few of them have the reach online that traditional media had in their respective markets and because of the economics of performance-based advertising, which requires massive scale to pay off (on a “per-click” basis).

Think of traditional media as endangered species in the media ecosystem. And as these players shrink or become extinct “media diversity” (like biodiversity) is compromised.

What prompted me to write this is a Reuters piece that appeared today, which reports on a prediction by investment firm Sanford C. Bernstein that the US Internet would be dominated by “two strong players” (Google, Amazon). This is an incorrect oversimplification but there may be a directional sense in which it’s accurate.


Here are data and profiles on 23 top newspapers and their websites.

3 Responses to “210 DMAs Compressed into One”

  1. ian Says:

    it’s odd to think how the DMA has been co-opted/absorbed into interactive marketing. A DMA has tremendous usefulness in broadcast media, but less in print and even less in interactive/cable, where significantly greater precision can yield a more targeted audience. Too bad early behavioral/geo targeting didn’t recognize this distinction and seek to develop a “DMA for interactive.” Instead, we’re left with something that doesn’t quite fit the bill and is inherently compromised.

    Similar to how a DMA was meant for broadcast, the ZIP was meant for a) delivering mail and b) settling union squabbles. Poor(er) targeting follows….

    This does get interesting when one considers (say) Google’s Print Ads program–that is a place where DMAs have much more utility, but the unit of analysis (DMA, ADI, ZIP, neighborhood, etc…) should be different depending on the media.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Agree it’s not a particularly useful concept for online.

  3. G5 Search Marketing » Blog Archive » The Local Market is Moving - Online Says:

    […] Sterling over at Sterling Market Intelligence wrote an excellent post on the move to the web — and what that means for the local […]

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